Scientology Boss Gets Jail Term
East Grinstead Courier, 22 February 1978
RON L. Hubbard, the American born founder of the Church of Scientology, who turned Saint Hill Manor, East Grinstead, into the world headquarters of the movement, was sentenced in his absence to four years in prison and fined 35,000 Francs for fraud by the Paris Criminal Court last week.
The court has issued a warrant for the arrest of Hubbard, who is in his sixties and began the movement in 1952. He is thougbt to live on a Panamanian registered yacht, cruising outside territorial waters off the Bahamas.
The case against him was brought by the French Public Prosecutor.
M. Georges Andrews, President of the French branch of the Church, said to have 10,000 members, was given a suspended prison term of one year and fined 3,000 Francs.
The Court said the Church of Scientology was a commercial enterprise which "Through fanciful and misleading promises duped third parties."
It found that the Church made fraudulent promises to heal mental or other illnesses and to make would-be members more financially successful in life.
Prospective members were induced to pay for courses at a rate much higher than the courses were worth, the court found.
The court did not pronounce on the religious or philosophical base of the Church, which has about two million members throughout the world.
Hubbard, who bought Saint Hill Manor in 1959, was banned from re-entering Britain in August. 1968. by the then Home Secretary and Minister of Health of the day who stated in the Commons that the Governmcnt was satisfied Scientology was socially harmful.
Under pressure, the Government some three years later set up an inquiry into the movement under Sir John Foster, who subsequently recommended that the ban on foreign Scientologists be lifted.
The Government is still refusing entry into the country of aliens who wish to study or work in Scientology, despite strenuous efforts by the movement to bring about a change of mind.
[sidebar. Picture of Hubbard smiling]
On Monday Scientologists demonstrated in front of the French Embassy. Representatives delivered a letter to the French Ambassador to Britain for forwarding to the French President. It called for an investigation of the French legal system of trial in 'absentia.'